The Mediation Process
Mediation is an informal and flexible dispute resolution process. The mediator's role is to guide the parties toward their own resolution. Through joint sessions and separate meetings with the parties, called caucuses, the mediator helps both sides define the issues clearly, understand each other's position and move closer to resolution.
Most often, mediations start with a joint session used to set the ground rules and introduce concepts that will be discussed throughout the day. The joint session also helps define the issues and determines the parties' positions.
Generally, after the joint session, parties move to separate caucuses. The mediator will carry messages—offers, counter offers, questions, demands, and proposals—between both sides to help the parties move closer to resolution.
The mediator often works with both sides to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of the case overall. He may also discuss with the parties what might happen if the dispute does not settle. The mediator has no authority to decide the settlement or even compel the parties to settle. The decision to resolve a dispute, rest solely with the parties.
Ultimately, the mediation process belongs to the parties. The mediator roll is to facilitate and guide the process. Please note, successful mediation require work from both parties. Therefore, for the best results, come to mediation with an open mind, ready to discuss the issues, listen to options and work hard.